Living For A Legacy

How will you be remembered? What events, actions, and words will remain in people's minds after you are gone? When you leave this world, will you be missed ... or dissed?

One man got a chance to find out. In the late 1800s, Alfred Nobel was one of the world's most influential men. He had invented dynamite, smokeless gunpowder, and hundreds of related products.

One morning, Nobel picked up the newspaper to find that he had died the day before. Actually, it was Nobel's brother who had died, but the paper had made a mistake. And as he read his own obituaries, Nobel quickly came to understand how he was viewed.

Whereas Nobel considered himself a great inventor who had made mining, excavation, and canal construction far safer and more efficient, the public considered him a cold-blooded killer, responsible for escalating warfare and creating an on-going "arms race." Nobel was blamed for man's improved ability to kill his fellow man, and the media portrayed him as a monster.

Needless to say, Alfred Nobel did not intend to be remembered as a butcher, so he devised a plan. From his massive fortune, Nobel endowed numerous awards for science, art, and statesmanship. Today, the "Nobel Peace Prize" is considered the highest achievement for a statesman, while other Nobel Prizes are equally elite in their respective fields. And while millions connect the name "Nobel" with great achievement, almost nobody connects the name with killing and destruction.

You might argue that Alfred Nobel was simply being selfish, trying to clean up his name and reputation. But whatever the motivation, Nobel understood the importance of living a life worth remembering. And for that reason, the world is a better place because Alfred Nobel visited here.

Are you selfish or selfless? Joyful or joyless? Compassionate or critical? Through the hours you invest, the words you say, and the actions you take, you are slowly, bit by bit, crafting your legacy. How will you be remembered?

Mark Phillips
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Copyright © 2001 Matrix Development, Mark Phillips.
All rights reserved.

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